On Monday, we ended the most unproductive session of the Legislature in nearly 40 years. Zero budget bills are headed to the governor's desk, but what is worse is the power has once again been centralized between Governor Walz, House Speaker Hortman and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka. The “Tribunal” of the Senate Majority Leader, House Speaker and the Governor agreed to 10 of the Governor’s demands for policy in addition to the global budget targets.
The most egregious of these demands are a return of last budget session's "Tribunal" to determine which policies are or are not adopted into the conference committee reports. Even these prior agreements and undue influence by the Governor are still not a guarantee that the Governor will actually sign the bills into law. This “agreement” amounts to an unconstitutional line-item veto for policy, even though the Governor only has the power to veto budget line-items. This Tribunal 2.0 effectively silences the rest of the 199 members of the legislature and thereby the voices of every Minnesotan. It is disrespectful to every single Minnesota legislator as we are all elected to represent our constituents. We only found out about the content of the deal after it had already been signed by Gazelka, Hortman, and Walz.
In addition, even though all sides agreed to full federal conformity for forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan income and Unemployment Insurance tax relief, we did not act upon that on the last day of session. We had bill language for both of those items and an agreement on the policy, but both the House and Senate adjourned early in the afternoon rather than pass these desperately needed bills just as Minnesotans across the state were writing checks to pay their taxes due on May 17th.
Possibly the worst part of this deal was that it doesn't even end the Governor's emergency powers. There is not a single word in the agreement that talks about winding down the peacetime state of emergency, even after Republicans in both chambers voted multiple times to end them throughout this last year. Now, in negotiations when they could actually elicit some sort of compromise, the Senate Majority Leader has singlehandedly completely ignored the issue.
I hope that each legislator will stand on their own election certificate and make up their own mind about voting for or against these budget bills written by the “Tribunal”. Minnesotans deserve better. Minnesotans deserve to have their voices heard.
Please Contact Me
As always, if you need assistance on an issue pertaining to state government or have concerns or ideas about legislation, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 357 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.